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The Kingdom Above the Clouds


When I was eight years old, my father gave me this book: Legends of Greece and Rome. He had received it as a prize, when he was ten, for excelling at Greek school. My most treasured book, it has accompanied me everywhere: written on the page shown here, is my message: This book belongs to Voula Tsoflias, 226 Gladstone Road Barry Glam. If lost, please return to this address.

The Kingdom above the Clouds told me:

Long, long ago, there lived, in the land which we call Greece, a race of brave men and beautiful women. They thought their own land the best and the fairest in the world……. So they said, “There must be some mighty people living above us, who rule the sun and the moon and the stars and the oceans and the rivers and the woods and everything else. They are great and happy and good, and they live forever; they can do whatever they please, and from them come all our joys and sorrows. Let us worship them and sing of them.” And they called these mighty people gods and goddesses.

In the northern part of Greece, there stood a mountain called Olympus, that was so high that its peak seemed to pierce through the clouds, up, up into the sky till the eye could scarcely follow it. The Greek people said it was there that the gods lived, among the clouds and the stars.

The people of Greece believed that if they did anything wrong it would displease the gods, and that they would be punished by sickness or death or some other evil; but if they did what was right, the mighty people would be pleased and would love them and send them wealth and happiness.

I read, enthralled, repeatedly, of Persephone and Ceres, Apollo and Diana, Narcissus and Echo, Perseus and Medusa.

Several decades later, when I was writing Honor’s Shadow, and researching the concept of revenge, I turned towards the Greek myths again, seeking enlightenment. I wasn’t disappointed, for there I met three goddesses of revenge. The Erinnyes: Tisiphone, Alecto and Megaera, took howling vengeance on wrongdoers, haunting them to madness, death and beyond. Their eyes dripped with blood, and, like Medusa, they had hair of snakes.

It was deeply satisfying to weave this myth through the story of Tisi, Honor’s disturbing new therapy client, not only because of my love of Greek myths, but also because it created a new dimension: with this fable, Honor’s Shadow became a tale of redemption.

This post is dedicated with love, to my father Anthony Tsoflias.

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